This is a straight-to-the-point guide to help you choose the best cabbing machine.
With just a little practice you can custom make your own beautiful cabochons from trimmed, pre-cut slabs for cabbing, ready to fit any easily obtainable fine-quality cabochon setting of your choice.
Cabbing machines are, it has to be said, quite pricey when you compare them, for example, to machines you might use for other crafts, but I suspect that’s because lapidary is a more highly specialized niche, and as such, a craft that hasn’t so far been flooded with cheaper and not so well-made Chinese imports.
All of the cabbers in this guide are well-made, high-quality machines, made here in the US. Our research showed that there were three clear winners for the best cabbing machine.
So whether you are a professional jewelry maker or a lapidary hobbyist in the making, we’ll now take a look at the very best machines out there.
For Hobbyists to Pro Lapidarist: CabKing 6″ Cabbing Machine
The CabKing more than lives up to its regal-sounding name. We should warn you it’s not cheap, but this lapidary machine is practically a complete workstation in itself and even comes with an accessory kit so it has everything you need to complete the lapidary grinding to polishing process from rough pre-cut slabs to handcrafted beautifully polished cabochons.
It’s designed for all skill levels from beginners to pro-Lapidarist jewelry makers and it’s suitable for everyone simply because it requires no special skill to use it.
On the left shaft of the CabKing are two electroplated diamond grinding wheels (one coarse and one finer grit), plus one coarse electroplated diamond resin wheel.
On the right are three electroplated diamond resin wheels to take you through the lapidary polishing process and there’s one canvas polishing pad and one full-face diamond lap. Just so you know (because you can’t see them in the photo above), these are flat discs for use on the end of the right shaft.
The cabbing unit has an adjustable water system provided by an included 30-watt water pump. You will just need to add two buckets, one with clean water for the pump and one to collect the dirty water expelled by the unit’s simple drainage system.
The cabbing machine is backed up by a strong 1/4 horsepower direct-drive motor. That means there are no belts or pulleys to maintain, and it will give you a steady 1800rpm.
The kit comes complete with a diamond paste syringe containing a strong concentrate of high-quality diamonds suspended in a water-based carrier to give the cab the ultimate high gloss finish.
You also get removable stone trays, extra wheel spacers, hand rests, splash guards, safety goggles, a waterproof apron, and a handy booklet on How to Use Diamond Abrasives to Cut Gemstones, and a conveniently placed, built-in LED lamp so you can clearly see what you’re doing.
This is a wonderful machine for making your own high-quality handmade cabochons that are suitable for all kinds of jewelry pieces. It will also polish glass, synthetic materials, and metals too.
What We Like:
- Complete Kit with Water Pump and Accessories | You basically just need just a couple of cheap plastic buckets and some beautiful 1/8″-1/4″ pre-cut rock slabs for cabbing and you’re set up and ready to go.
- US Company Backed up With a One-Year Warranty | It’s easy to buy additional tools to fit this US-assembled machine. You can buy an extra diamond resin wheel or grinding wheel, for example, if you want to choose a different grit size.
- Very User-Friendly | Everything is set up for you. You don’t have to swap out the grinding or polishing disks to use this machine as you will with the cheaper models we’ll be looking at next.
Things to Consider:
The 6″ CabKing is well worth the initial investment for the quality of the machine you are getting especially considering the fact that you get all the extras including a 30-watt water pump. We’ve chosen the 6″ diameter wheel version because the step up in price to the 8″ cabbing machine is pretty steep. If you have big hands or specifically want to work with larger stones, you may feel it’s worth paying that much extra for to get wider wheels and more generous spacing but otherwise, this size is better value for money.
However, if you aren’t ready to invest in the King of cabbing machines just yet, we have a much more affordable one for you to look at next.
Check the latest price of the CabKing 6″ Cabbing Machine on Amazon.
Best for Beginners to Hobbyists: Hi-Tech Diamond 6″ All-U-Need
This is a much more affordable cabbing machine for those not ready to go all out and invest in a pro model just yet. Yet it’s still more than capable of producing beautiful high-quality cabochons for all kinds of jewelry making.
This cabber works a little differently from our first pick in that this one is a flat lap machine. With this type of machine, you’ll be working from above. The motor rotates flat discs specifically designed to grind, smooth and polish rocks, minerals, and more.
You can make free-form shapes, create flats or make stunning cabochons for any type of jewelry you want. It’s suitable for a wide variety of natural gemstones including quartz, agate, jasper, tourmaline, corundum, opal, and more. It’s even suitable for synthetic gemstones, enamels, and metals.
The All-U-Need cabbing machine is a high-powered, 1/4 horsepower, machine that’s easy to operate. There’s just one simple dial that lets you choose which speed you want to work at and it runs anywhere between 800rpm and 3,400rpm. We should add, this flexibility in speed is a useful feature and one that, notably, the CabKing doesn’t have.
Everything you need is included in the kit to get you started straight out of the box. You get four different electroplated diamond discs ranging from a coarse to a smooth grit and one polishing pad. You also get a 2-gram syringe of diamond paste, a polishing compound for that glass-like finish.
The clean water system is easy to use and you get one clean and one dirty water cup included.
What We Like:
- Affordable Price | It’s several hundred dollars cheaper than the CabKing featured above making it more realistically priced for a hobbyist.
- Adjustable Speed | You can choose how fast you would like the machine to work. The speed is adjustable (via a simple dial) from 800rpm to 3,400rpm.
Things to Consider:
The only slight drawback of this machine is that when you need to change your grit size you will need to manually swap the electroplated diamond discs. But considering the price difference between this one and our first choice, it’s not that much of a downside.
Lastly, you might want to consider how you want to work. With this machine, you will most likely be standing and working from above.
If so, you should skip this option and go for our alt pick next.
Check the latest price of the Hi-Tech Diamond 6″ All-U-Need on Amazon.
Best Alternative Pick for Beginners to Hobbyists: Hi-Tech Diamond 6″ Slant Cabber
This cabbing machine is specifically designed to allow you to sit while you work. It’s perfect for those who might find it uncomfortable to stand or those who prefer to sit just in order to hold the dop stick with a steadier hand.
In all other respects, this machine is the same as our last choice above. You get the same features and the same high quality, so there’s basically no downside to choosing the slant version of this cabbing machine.
Both machines are just as popular but without this variation, if you prefer to work sitting down you would have to rig up a very low work table or else opt for the considerably more expensive CabKing above.
What We Like:
- Slant Design | It’s such a simple design variation but it will give you a more comfortable experience if, for whatever reason, you prefer to sit while you work.
Check the latest price of the Hi-Tech Diamond 6″ Slant Cabber on Amazon.